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New NOBTS church music degrees underscore practical ministry

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary will offer a redesigned master of music in church music degree and a master of divinity degree with a major in church music in August 1998.
“These new music programs reflect a shift from a performance-based system to an emphasis on practical church music ministry,” said Steve W. Lemke, seminary provost and dean of the graduate faculty. The announcement came during the regular meeting of the seminary trustee executive committee Dec. 9 in New Orleans.
“We will never waiver on stressing quality performance standards,” Lemke said. “However, our students are studying to be quality church music practitioners for the 21st century. We believe this new program reflects the strengths of our faculty, as well as those of our students.”
The redesigned 48-hour master of music degree in church music is designed for men and women called to the ministry of the local church, said Kenneth J. Gabrielse, acting chairman of the seminary’s division of church music ministries during the health sabbatical of chairman Sidney L. Buckley.
“We are in the business of training professional church musicians. This degree focuses all of our energy toward that goal,” Gabrielse said. Furthermore, Gabrielse said the three agencies accrediting New Orleans Seminary’s division of church music ministries — the National Association of Schools of Music, the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — “will look favorably on this attempt to help our students.”
The seminary’s present master of music degree program requires 60 hours, with 12 hours meeting performance requirements. Currently one other Southern Baptist seminary offers a 50-hour master of music in church music degree program. Several of the Baptist colleges offer master of church music degree programs requiring less than 40 hours.
Further helping the students will be what Lemke termed “an important new major:” a major in church music for students in the master of divinity degree program.
“This new major in our master of divinity degree program will have an emphasis on worship leadership and will well prepare men and women to meet the multiple-staff position roles they encounter in mission churches and new church starts,” Lemke said.
In addition, “the pastor and/or worship leader with studies in both theology and music will be well equipped to lead existing churches in renewal ministries.”
“Our target as a faculty is healthy churches,” said seminary President Chuck Kelley. “We believe dynamic worship and praise is essential for a church to be truly healthy. The master of divinity degree with a major in church music is an excellent tool to equip students to be outstanding worship leaders.”
The master of divinity degree program with a major in church music will be for students with a bachelor’s degree in music or music ministry who prefer a master’s degree with a broader theological base than a master of music degree. The master of divinity degree program requires 92 hours, including 26 hours for the church music major.
In other business, Kelley said in his report the March 1998 trustee meeting will include an announcement of the findings from the Vision New Orleans committee. After a two-year study, the committee will make “a historic decision that will impact our future very positively for decades to come,” Kelley said, concerning whether New Orleans Seminary should remain on its current property, renovating and expanding facilities as needed, or purchase land somewhere in the greater New Orleans area to construct a new campus.
Kelley said the March meeting also will include voting on several proposed professors. The seminary has nine faculty vacancies due both to expansion and retirements. Lemke announced the upcoming retirement of C. Ferris Jordan on July 31, 1998. Jordan, who will have completed 20 years at the seminary by that date, has been the J. M. Frost Baptist Sunday School Board Professor of Christian Education and Professor of Adult Education, with a specialization in gerontology.
Dean of students Charles W. Gaines reported on current seminary enrollment. The non-duplicating headcount is 1,857, reflecting a 5.2 percent increase in enrollment from the same time last year; 54 percent are on-campus students and 46 percent are off-campus students.
–30– New Orleans Seminary honored as education technology model
By Debbie Moore
NEW ORLEANS (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has been selected by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in a program funded by a Lilly Endowment grant to assess developing and continuing projects related to education and information technology.
The announcement was made Dec. 9 by Steve W. Lemke, NOBTS provost, during the seminary’s trustee executive committee meeting on the New Orleans campus.
The grant will be used to bring in an external evaluator to assess New Orleans Seminary’s model of distance education as a possible pattern for other theological schools.
“We are grateful to be recognized by ATS as one of the leaders in distance education,” Lemke said. “We are committed to finding ways to deliver quality theological education where ministers are, not just on our main campus. We are honored to be considered by ATS as a possible model for distance education for other theological institutions.”
New Orleans Seminary is one of six seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world. Of the seminary’s 1,857 non-duplicating headcount, 46 percent is composed of off-campus students.
The seminary began offering courses by compressed interactive video (CIV) in 1995, linking professors and students on the main campus live with professors and students at its extension center campuses, developed through the efforts of Jimmy W. Dukes, dean of the seminary’s extension center system.
The seminary currently has CIV links with its campus in Decatur, Ga., and with its extension centers in Orlando and Miami, with additional sites to be connected as funds are available. Other extension centers are located in Angola, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, La.; Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala.; Graceville, Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.; Clinton and Jackson, Miss.; and Cleveland, Tenn.
“This is an affirmation of our extension center system,” Dukes said. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to do this intensive evaluation. The result will be a stronger program for all of our students.”
“New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is committed to making theological education as accessible as possible,” said Chuck Kelley, seminary president. “Dr. Jimmy Dukes as been a pioneer in finding creative ways to take the campus to students. This grant will help us learn to do it more effectively.”
New Orleans Seminary also is assessing the viability of developing courses and degree programs suitable for Internet education.

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  • Debbie Moore